Individual Work

NICHOLODEONLINE is the electronic manifestation of Darren Wershler’s first print-book of poetry, NICHOLODEON. Most of the poems and supplemental materials on NICHOLODEONLINE are simply digital reproductions of the print book organized in unique (and often difficult to navigate) web design. Some kinetic pieces, like “Grain: a prairie poem,” share a good deal with the early kinetic and Java experiments of electronic literature internationally, but with a clearly Canadian bent in both content and form. “Grain”’s interest in using letters to represent the flatland and horizon of the Canadian prairies as well as the growth and spread of one of Canada’s major exports, wheat, functions as a metapoem that demonstrates the influence of other Canadian poets (bpNichol’s and Steve McCafferey’s presences looming in the background) as well as the obvious influence of Canadian poet Dennis Cooley, a pioneer of the genre we now call the “long prairie poem.” Compared to the length of other kinetic poems, we might even say that “Grain” is relatively “long” and its inclusion in the mass of poems hosted on NICHOLODEONLINEmakes the work part of a larger serial poetic project. “Grain,” like many of the poems on NICHOLODEONLINE, is clearly indebted to the way the concretists and early typewriter poets use and play with the grid, but also how the animation of a digital, kinetic poem is freed of some of these limitations. That is, because the words and letters are afforded literal movement on the computer screen (rather than the implied or suggestive movement of print), Wershler is able to extend concretist poetics into a kinesis that is thoughtful and engaging in its literal movement.

Author statement: 
The poems in NICHOLODEON were written out of the conviction that we only use language because we haven't got anything that works better. Like traffic signs from a parallel world, the job of these poems is to produce a vague sense of anxiety in the reader, fuelled by the mistaken belief that they house some kernel of meaning that they desperately wish to communicate, despite nearly impossible odds.